It Is Time for the MACCIH to Resume Legality in the Fight Against Corruption

The Arcadia Foundation expresses its greatest satisfaction with the temporary designation of Ana Maria Calderon Boy as Spokesperson of the Mission of Support Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), established on the basis of the Agreement signed between the Government of Honduras and the Organization of States Americans of January 19, 2016, which established “an Inter-institutional Mechanism of Bilateral Cooperation between the Public Ministry of the Republic of Honduras and the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States,” to contribute to the Government and institutions Hondurans in the fight against corruption and for its definitive eradication in the country.

The Mission must carry out cooperation and assistance work, within the framework of the bilateral agreement in which its functions are defined, which unfortunately, the previous Spokesperson, the Peruvian lawyer Juan Jimenez Mayor, distorted the overreaching in its functions that were in each press conference offered, beyond those defined in the Agreement, giving, unfortunately, political and personal form to a management as delicate as fundamental for Honduras and the Hondurans, a management that showed rather its desperate interest in winning praise and fame professional, with unspeakable personal ends.

The fight against illegality cannot be based on illegal and illegitimate actions, such as those that would have been made by Speaker Jimenez Mayor, who, far from contributing to the fight against corruption, created an atmosphere of negative and counterproductive confusion.

His opinions and unilateral announcements were unfortunate, as well as his improper positions on issues of extreme sensitivity in the country as the case of Berta Caceres, on which he formulated statements of unnecessary political tone, favoring rather the media sensationalism and an empty debate on the subject of corruption, in a case as serious and delicate as that which should be investigated with the greatest professionalism possible to avoid that the active agents of that abominable crime do not face justice.

The bilateral agreement was disrespected by Mr. Jimenez Mayor, in particular, in the obligations derived from the internal legal order, to which refers, in particular, the rules regarding due process and respect, in general, of the human rights of citizens.

Mr. Juan Jimenez did not respect either, despite being a lawyer by profession, a fundamental norm of the Honduran legal system and characteristic of all the actions of global investigations: confidentiality, as determined in Article 7.4 of the same Agreement in which guarantees the confidentiality of its actions, by publishing the actions it would undertake without reserving the lines of the investigation or the names of possible investigated, which would have exposed to public opinion, to the detriment of their dignity and moral integrity, acting far beyond of its functions, abusing its authority, leaving without effect the centrality of its action that was to generate “good practices” to fight corruption and achieve greater effectiveness in the investigation and integrated criminal prosecution.

Article 9 of the Agreement, we must also remember, reiterates the obligation of confidentiality that the Mission must guarantee in its actions. Just as the Public Ministry is subject to this rule of confidentiality and reservation in the proceedings, the principle is absolutely applicable to the Mission and its voices, which unfortunately disrespected the Peruvian Jimenez Mayor to the detriment of the credibility and efficiency of such an important Mission as the MACCIH.

The referral to internal order, established in the bilateral agreement makes applicable the Article 278 of the Code of Criminal Procedure that provides that “the investigations carried out by the competent authorities, shall be kept secret from any person who is not part of them, while their results are not presented before the jurisdictional bodies. The authorities in charge of the investigation will try not to damage the rights of the investigated during the practice of their investigations “.

This reserve and confidentiality requirement in the investigation and integrated criminal prosecution actions are reiterative in this Mechanism. It could not be otherwise, if we start that Honduras is a State of Law and therefore its authorities must submit their actions to the Law. Article 7 of the Mechanism notes in this regard that “of considering the MACCIH-OEA that one or more cases must be assumed and designated as Investigation and Integrated Criminal Prosecution, the Special Representative / Spokesperson of the MACCIH-OAS will communicate directly to the Attorney General of the Republic, so that the File is transferred or a new one is opened in the UFECIC and Share all the information corresponding to the investigation, accusation, prosecution and execution of the sentence. Without prejudice to Article 8 of this mechanism, UFECIC will handle the information, maintaining the reserve determined by Articles 7º of the Law of the Public Prosecutor and 275º of the Criminal Procedure Code”.

Article 7 of the Public Prosecutor’s Law specifies, for its part, that it “… may not disclose information that attempts against the secrecy of investigations or that may harm the rights of persons …”, an impediment that encompasses its application, of course, to the OAS Mission and the established mechanism.

The investigations announced in a number of opportunities by the Peruvian Jimenez Mayor not only violated the principle of confidentiality established in the bilateral Agreement and in the Honduran Laws, but the full respect of the Human Rights of the people, as it establishes, among others, Article 275 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Honduras in which the obligations of the authorities in charge of the preliminary investigation are determined.

The appointment of a new spokesperson poses a new challenge to the MACCIH that should contribute to this fight, but always within the greater respect that the institutions and the laws of Honduras deserve. The first action of the temporary Spokeswoman, unfortunately, does not seem to be going in the right direction when a detention and a responsibility that does not correspond are adjudged. Regardless of whether or not the persons named are guilty of any crime, this could only, in order to generate the trust due in the Hondurans, be based on a judicial decision pronounced according to law.

We all have confidence in the success of the MACCIH, in its mouthpiece activity, in the OAS and in the Honduran authorities to successfully confront the fight against impunity for corruption that has hit Honduran society like never before, but always within of the strict limits of legality and justice, which the new spokesperson of the mission has neglected in its first actions, which, unfortunately, far from generating confidence, discourages and weakens all the efforts made by the government and the Honduran people.

Arcadia Foundation

Washington, DC

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